Saying Goodbye to Team USA

Jamie McDonald

Yesterday, Americans lost both Rutgers and their ability to cheer for the USMNT. Here's why the latter is going to be ok.

Listen: I know this is a website called "TheUConnBlog" and nothing I am about to say ostensibly has anything to do with UConn in the slightest. But we're all here because we're sports fans. And for the most part, everyone reading this blog is from the United States of America. It would be completely uncouth of us to not talk about what happened yesterday afternoon.

The result will be put aside for the time being. Outcomes are (though in soccer, only at this stage) essentially binary and never truly reflect what happened in the hours preceding them, regardless of who wins. Let's zoom out from Salvador for a second, and focus our attention north of the Equator, across this vast, beautiful nation. There, huddled around TVs, packed into standing-room-only bars, silently cheering from office desks, were Americans – millions of them, probably tens of millions. And those Americans were united in one thing, and it wasn't necessarily even a soccer team. We watched, hands in hair and cursing at the gods, and we cheered, but not just for Tim Howard (though he deserved every single, solitary second of it) or Julian Green, but for our country. That's a special feeling, and one I don't really think we'd experienced in a long time.

There's nothing new in the statement that we're a nation divided. We're split down party lines, defined by what we are pro- or anti-, casted as rich, middling, or poor. We are stereotyped based on race, gender, hair style, you name it. Hell, a bunch of the country calls soda "pop" for absolutely no fucking reason. And sure, we've had plenty of instances where we're supposed to cheer for America. We've had wars, the Olympics, the Space Race. But this was, honestly, a wholly unique and important emotion that comes from something deep inside all of us. There is simple explanation that you will see floating around just about everywhere. You will hear that we are a nation that cheers for underdogs, and soccer is the last bastion of grip the old world has had on us for a long time. We're the world's strongest runt. People will easily attribute that to the new-found fanaticism or why we bowed out after the round of 16.

That's all bullshit. We like cheering for the simple reason that we like winning, and we like winning surrounded by friends. And in this case, a friend is anyone with a beer in hand and some sort of red, white, and blue paraphernalia on their body. It's the same in Germany, Chile, or Nigeria. We were upset because we lost; gut-wrenchingly so.

The sport has its detractors, all do. Idiotic Facebook friends of all of us are standing on their pulpits made of mammoth shit and spewing their trolling rhetoric about how they can finally go back to not caring about soccer. Let them fade into relative obscurity again, and then passive-aggressively unfriend them a few days later. No other sport could be able to field teams from 32 nations from around the globe that are (decently) matched up. No other sport shuts down entire countries. No other sport feels quite like international soccer does.

So when you think about yesterday's loss (sorry to remind you), don't think about how you have to wait four more years for this to all happen again. Think, instead, about how fucking awesome it was to be joined as a nation, together. Then remember that you can do this all over again next year.

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